Vermont Garrison was born on October 21, 1915, in Mount Victory, Kentucky. He enlisted in the Aviation Cadet Program of the U.S. Army Air Forces on March 17, 1941, but before finishing training he joined the Royal Air Force, where he served until July 13, 1943, when he rejoined the U.S. Army Air Forces. After transition training in the P-47 Thunderbolt, Lt Garrison was assigned to the 4th Fighter Group in Europe where he was credited with shooting down 7.33 enemy aircraft in aerial combat. Garrison was shot down on March 3, 1944, and taken as a Prisoner of War by the Germans. He was liberated by the Russians on May 1, 1945, and remained in Europe as part of the Army of Occupation until 1946. Captain Garrison served in serveral fighter squadrons from 1947 to 1950 and was serving with the 4th Fighter Interceptor Wing when it was sent to Japan in support of the Korean War in early 1951. The Wing was moved from Japan to Korea in the Spring of 1951, and Garrison was credited with the destruction of 10 enemy aircraft between February and July 1953, for a two-war total of 17.33, which also made him one of only 7 men to become an ace in both World War II and Korea. Colonel Garrison again flew in combat during the Vietnam War, where he served as Vice Wing Commander of the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing from August 1966 to July 1967, flying 97 combat missions in the F-4 Phantom II. He next served as Commanding Officer of the 408th Fighter Group at Kingsley Field, Oregon, from July 1967 to August 1968. Col Garrison served as Vice Commander of the 26th Air Division at Adair AFS, Oregon, from August 1968 to June 1969, when he became Wing Commander of the 4780th Air Defense Wing at Perrin AFB, Texas, serving until July 1971. Col Garrison's final assignment was as Commander of the 4661st Air Base Group at Hamilton AFB, California, from July 1971 until his retirement from the Air Force on March 1, 1973. Col Garrison wears Command Pilot Wings and was credited with destroying 17.33 aircraft in aerial combat during WWII and Korea, with another 3 probables and 8 damaged. He died on February 14, 1994.
His Distinguished Service Cross Citation reads:
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Vermont Garrison, Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Air Force, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy of the United Nations while serving as a Pilot with the 335th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, 4th Fighter-Interceptor Wing, FIFTH Air Force, in action against enemy forces in the Republic of Korea on 5 June 1953. On that date, while leading a flight of four F- 86 aircraft near the Yalu River, Colonel Garrison sighted a formation of ten MIG-15s far below. Diving down, Colonel Garrison pressed dangerously close behind the lead MIG in order that the remainder of his formation could assume attacking positions. With one long burst of his guns, Colonel Garrison caused the MIG to explode and disintegrate. Then, at great risk to his life, Colonel Garrison flew directly through the debris from the explosion, in order to attack another enemy MIG and fully exploit the tactical advantage already gained. Courageously disregarding a hail of enemy fire from behind him, and in the face of heavy odds, Colonel Garrison, after violent maneuvering, closed on the second MIG, scoring hits which caused it to explode and crash. As a result of Colonel Garrison's intrepidity and keen flying skill, his flight was able to engage other MIGs in the forefront of the enemy formation, successfully destroying three of them. The enemy, having lost one-half of his force in less than two minutes, and thoroughly demoralized by the heroic and telling attack of Colonel Garrison and his formation, turned and withdrew from the scene of action in defeat. Through Colonel Garrison's selfless courage and inspiring leadership, the tide of battle was turned and his flight was credited with the destruction of five MIGs, two of which were destroyed by Colonel Garrison.